A Mile By Mile Analysis From A Veteran
The South Bay Beach Cities of Los Angeles start Super Bowl Sunday with a unique event, a 10K race in Redondo Beach.
With people in costumes, residents lining the streets playing music and a beer garden, this is known as a “fun run.”
But don’t be fooled, for the course certainly presents its challenges.
Here’s a mile-by-mile description of the course from someone who has run it, oh, I don’t know, certainly more than a dozen times. Frankly, I prefer not to count my t-shirts to find out how many years I’ve done it!
The course starts and finishes on Harbor Drive, goes up to Catalina Ave., around a part of Riviera Village, onto the Esplanade – the most scenic part of the course with full views of the Pacific Ocean – up “The Hill” back to Catalina Ave., then back to Harbor Drive for the “whew, I made it” finish line.
The beer garden is in Seaside Lagoon.
The excitement of being at the start causes a lot of people to suddenly bolt out at the beginning, even running up on the sidewalks before turning onto Herondo Street at the Redondo/Hermosa border. Here, the reality of the race hits people like a cold blast of wind. Much of this race – almost all of the first half of it – is uphill. Herondo is one of the many multi-block uphill climbs. The course makes a right onto Francisco, which is a short connector road to Catalina Ave., and this is also up a hill.
The uphill climb continues on and across Catalina Ave., and through a residential area, tho it’s easy to get a boost from the residents who come out to cheer on the runners, some of whom are playing music. You do get a nice downhill by the BofA, but because there’s a sharp left turn back onto Catalina, you can’t use that downhill to get any real momentum. Here, you’re faced with an immediate uphill climb, pretty steep for two blocks, then a gradual slope for another two or so blocks. This finally flattens out around Torrance Blvd.
Ahhh, flat terrain at least! This is actually a pretty nice visual. Runners as far as the eye can see in front and in back of you fill the street, which is lined by palm trees on both sides. This carries you to the edge of Riviera Village.
Upon entering Riviera Village, I usually peel off to stop for a pint at Hennessey’s – hey, I’m continuing a long-standing race tradition and sadly am about the only one doing so these days – while the other runners go behind me making a long circle to the Esplanade.
This is the best part of the race. You’re running with the Pacific Ocean off the left shoulder while on other side of the street residents in the apartments are on their balcony cheering and playing music.
Uggg back to reality. Not only do you lose the view but you’re hit with another hill. And then “The Hill.” The latter is that dreaded steep climb from the Pier back to Catalina Ave., at Torrance Blvd. And when you finally conquer it and think you have it made, you still have to crest a lip in the road and then there’s a couple more blocks of an uphill grade. Only until you reach Catalina and Diamond do you get relief, which is down a fairly steep and long hill.
Every time I’m confronted by “The Hill,” I wonder why officials don’t take out this part the course and run instead on the pier. First of all, it’s much more scenic and from a PR and marketing standpoint it would provide something great to promote (something along “world’s most scenic 10K” and while that may be stretching things a bit, who is really going to argue). It would also be great for businesses; imagine having 5,000 10K runners going by your business, runners who are looking for places to eat and drink after the beer garden. Okay, now back to the course.
Just a U-turn on a funky part of Harbor Drive to the finish line where a volunteer puts a medal around your neck as if you’ve just won the Olympics.
Whew. Now let’s party!